How it Feels to Job Hunt as a Recent Grad

Congratulations recent college graduates! Two years ago had just come home from Greece (not bad) and started life guarding for the fifth summer in a row as I hunted and applied for teaching jobs to no avail. I sympathize with anyone who is going through that right now.

I’m a big fan of reading BuzzFeed articles before bed (don’t judge me) and I decided to take a crack at my own gif inspired blog post. With the help of giphy and gifhorse I was able to write one rather easily. One or two people have even said it was funny! I am more proud of it than I probably should be.

You can read ‘How it Feels to Job Hunt as a Recent Grad’ on the NY Creative Interns blog here.

The President using Social Media

Most of the country underestimates the influence of social media, which is understandable. Twitter can just as easily be a place to share a photo of your sandwich as it can be a place to engage in educated discourse. On December 3rd Obama took a small amount of time to head to Twitter to answer various questions that Twitter users (and American citizens) had about Obama’s proposed plan to extend middle-class tax cuts while ending them for those with $250,000+/yr incomes. See an overview of the conversation here.


Photo from the White House blog

A great thing about Twitter is that with hardly any time, effort, or money, you can reach a very large audience. You can also reach a young audience that doesn’t always have cable or a newspaper subscription. I applaud Obama, and his team who suggested this idea to him, for taking the time to use social media to engage an audience that may otherwise ignore this issue all together.

It’s one thing to use AMA on Reddit to answer questions before the election (which I also thought was a cool idea) but it’s even better that Obama has continued to use social media in an attempt to keep the country informed on his ideas and proposed policies.  I’m happy that our President recognizes the potential impact that social media can have, and  understands how to use it in an effective way.

My response to “Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25″

I am blown away by how seriously people have taken this post “Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25” by Cathryn Sloane, a recent college graduate who writes part time for NextGen and has even had her work featured in USA TODAY.

In short Sloane argues that her generation (my generation) understands social media better than any other generation, because we grew up with it and used it before anyone else for social purposes.

That argument is okay, if she had put in any effort at all to make it compelling. The article uses no facts, and instead makes  judgements and assumptions the whole way through. Kat French makes a great point in her rebuttal post, that it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid using hyperbole and absolutes in journalism. Sloane uses absolutes a few times throughout the piece.

“incorporating comforting social aspects into professional usage seems to go over several companies’ heads”

“Several” is the key word here. There are a few companies that have bombed social media, but it’s not a huge gaping problem in America. Adults are not running wild ruining social media for the youth as they spew corporate, non-social stuff into our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

When I read this article I read something that appeared to be quickly put together, proof read for typos, and posted online. It’s not horrendous by any means, it just…not very good. This girl has written dozens of other articles for NextGen, most receiving 2 comments max. Maybe she even wrote the post because she wanted to spice things up and start some conversation and debate in the comments. She was not expecting a huge backlash from adults.

I read the comments and some of them are just plain stupid. I understand why people generalize my entire generation in the comments- look at the article they are commenting on. But it still peeves me. This girl wrote a stupid article, so please don’t associate the rest of my age group with this article, and don’t claim that my generation is “entitled.”

Entitled people come from all walks of life and are of all ages. In some ways my generation has it very cushy. But you also have to remember that some people ages 20-25 are up to their eyeballs in student loan debt and are working minimum wage jobs to cover the interest payments. We are the same generation that is working 40 hours per week in unpaid internships. And I’m not just talking about those of us who majored in Classical Roman Studies: I’m talking about those of us who majored in education, finance, business, communications, political science, etc. Majors that others had told us would lead to jobs. I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m just equally frustrated by misunderstandings, the same way these adults are annoyed at this stupid article by Sloane.

As for my personal opinion on the actual topic of the article? I’ve had an interest in social media since 8th grade. I do think it’s an advantage that I had my high school years to waste away hours on my xanga blog, photobucket account and myspace page. Social Media comes easily to me, I pick it up fast and understand the pro’s and con’s of different platforms. It comes so easily that sometimes I’m blown away that I get paid to use it at work. But it has certainly helped me to work with adults (mostly young adults, I have to admit) that have a background in customer service and marketing, to learn how to most efficiently use these platforms in a work environment. I still have weak points in many areas, and it’s been great to practice using social media both for personal branding (yuck, I hate saying that) and as a way to help build engaged communities around a product. I think my co-workers appreciate how young I am, and I appreciate the mature demeanor and experience they show me daily.

In a time where the CEO of facebook just turned 28, it’s pretty obvious that we can’t assume any position should be filled with people above or below a certain age. I know this, and most 22 year olds know this. So please don’t assume we are all entitled idiots because of one silly piece of unconvincing writing.

“Slacktivism”

Recently I posted the KONY2012 video… that was before the insanity of it  going viral. Yesterday the African Union announced it will lead a mission of 5,000 to assist in process of capturing Joseph Kony. I’ve been paying attention to this issue for the past four years so I know that it could have been a coincidence that this happened so soon after the video came out. Obama for example, sent 100 American troops into Uganda to help strategize with the Ugandan military last December, before this film came out. (Although I think the actions of other Invisible Children videos helped in that process as well, but whatever.) But I have a large hunch the video and its crazy viral spread did have an influence on this decision.

So this leads me to one big criticism (I’m not addressing the other dozen criticisms here) Invisible Children has faced, but lots of other issues have faced as well. (For example, right now a lot of attention is being brought to the murder of Trayvon Martin.) This idea of “slacktivism”, sharing and discussing an unjust issue and admitting that we need to do something about it, but taking hardly any physical or tangible action towards solving that unjust issue. Social Media has made it so easy to be a “slacktivist”. In fact I’m sure this this term didn’t even existed before Social Media. (Not to say it didn’t happen.) People post the KONY2012 video and we all know that we don’t like child soldiers and we don’t like terrorist groups. But what is a 30 minute video that I watch and share on facebook going to change about it? We all feel terrible about the death of Trayvon Martin, but if I post an article about his death and write “RIP Trayvon” in the description, how is that going to justify what happened to him?

Some people are so disgusted by this trend, and blame the youth of our country for being naive, believing they are making a difference when in reality they are just sharing on facebook. But I don’t see it that way. This is the way I see it.

There are two types of people: observers/slacktivists and doers/activists. And both of these groups of people use facebook and twitter. Observers/slacktivists will always read an article, be upset by it and post it on facebook.  They themselves are doing nothing to push the cause forward and get stuff done. But the beauty of social media is that the doers/activists see the posts that the observers/slactivists left. The doer reads this upsetting article and flips out, immediately tries to rally a group of people together and get something done! These are the people that will make change in our world, the doers/activists are the change makers. But the great thing about these observers/slacktivists is they are the fuel for the change maker fire. They bring the issues to the attention of doer/activist and they in turn do something about it. Observers/slacktivists are never going to do anything, regardless of whether or not they post that article on facebook. But because they do share it, if enough doers/activists see it the opportunity does arise for change to be made. Like these troops the African Union is deploying to South Sudan. I also believe that because of this attention George Zimmerman will, in time, be arrested and imprisoned for the death of Trayvon Martin. The are just two cases, there are hundreds of others.

These doers/activists are all ages. Some are older and many are young as well. People who criticism observers/slacktivists for being unproductive are much less productive themselves. Stop being cynical. If someone posts something on facebook but you know they aren’t going do do anything about it, don’t waste you time complaining that they didn’t take action, just take action yourself. Theres no harm in a slacktivist as long as we still have some activists around to make some change.

One other quick point: I also really dislike people blaming the youth for not being motivated to make change. 1. A lot of youth is motiviated to make change, which is really surprising because 2. adults and schools have done a fantastic job of making youth feel like unimportant members of society that have no control over their lives. Social Studies classes in US public schools consist of memorizing the Bill of Rights or stuff Andrew Jackson did. Civics is about memorizing the balance of powers and the elastic clause. Why would these kids think that this stuff applies to them when nobody ever tells them that they can make change unless they have awesome parents or they themselves are awesome enough to think outside the box?


A Matter of Choice

Remember several posts ago when I discussed how much I enjoyed Louis CK’s experiment with his new stand-up… selling something for a low price with no copy write restrictions? I loved this because it gave us the consumer choice. I love choice. I had the option to take Louis CK’s stand-up and post it all over every torrent site online, but I didn’t just because he gave me the option to do so (while politely asking me not to). This freedom provided me with respect for Louis CK and a desire to fund his art. I’ve even heard that people who have posted his stand-up online added a disclaimer asking you to buy it yourself. (Which doesn’t make much sense but still, that is more tact than you typically see from someone uploading torrents.)

Well, yesterday Aaron Klein posted a tweet and corresponding blog post that created some considerable buzz on the interwebs.

Aaron Klein@AaronKlein Dear Wikipedia, stop begging for handouts. A single ad + Amazon affiliate links = swimming in money. Capitalism won, try it.”

I have to admit, I saw this tweet and I immediately did not like it. After reading the blog post I better understood where Klein was coming from. In his view donations should be reserved for people who need money; charitable organizations, men and women with start-up projects (like those you see on Kickstarter), people without the means to create enough revenue to accomplish their goal in any way other than donations, or “handouts.” I agree with him to a point. Non-profit companies like TOM’s shoes and Hot Bread Kitchen are awesome because they have a sustainable business model that does not require donations.  And because Wikipedia is such a popular website, it could easily create a high revenue itself using an ad role of some sort.

But I like yummy bread and I like cute supportive shoes. I don’t like sidebar ads on facebook, I don’t like promoted tweets, I don’t like ads being forced upon me in my free version or Words with Friends (I disliked that so much I finally paid for the real version). I understand as a free service ads are something that I will deal with and I should instead be thankful these ads are keeping these programs free for me to use. But a few months ago after completely ignoring the donation banner for months, I decided to donate to Wikipedia. I thought to myself, I rather see a donation banner than an ad for bridesmaid dresses that I accidentally click and takes me to some crappy website. I also realized that I greatly appreciated the fact that Wikipedia had given me a choice. (I could donate, or continue to use Wikipedia for free with the risk that it will start publishing ads.) I also had the choice of deciding how much money to donate ($10) and the choice of disabling the Wikipedia banner from my wikipage altogether if it bothered me.

I like choice. Yes, I still use facebook and twitter, and I would still use Wikipedia tomorrow if it started publishing ads. And maybe Wikipedia is being silly trying to raise donations when they could make a killing off of advertisements. But I really appreciate the choice the company gave me to make a donation. I look at that “donation” as more of a thank-you payment for the service Wikipedia has provided me with for years and a thank you for putting the consumer first. Just like I had the ability to download Louis CK’s stand-up from a torrent site, I had the choice to use Wikipedia for free forever without ads. And because I had that choice I actually took the time to make a donation.

$5 and no distribution control? I bought it.

Recently Louis CK uploaded his latest stand-up video at the Beacon Theater to his website. You could download it for $5 and you have the opportunity to stream the video twice and download it up to three times. There is no distribution control on the video so if you wanted to you could easily upload the video to a torrent site or burn it to a DVD.

Louis CK paid for the production of the video himself, so the $5 you pay would go directly to him. The video has been up less than a week. He was able to make a profit on the video in less than 12 hours and he has already made over $500,000 (therefore over 100,000 people have downloaded the video.) This is a great example of a new experiement many artists are testing. Give your material directly to the consumer with no middle man. There are also no sharing restraints, so it is possible to illegally pirate the material, but the artist charges a low fee (or allows the consumer to chose their own price, like Radiohead for example) in hopes that most people will chose to pay for the product instead of pirating the content.

I am one of the 100,000 people who have paid $5 for Louis CK’s new video. I did this for several reasons, the primary one being I think Louis CK is really funny and I wanted to watch his stand-up. But I also love this idea of paying a small fee directly to the artist themselves. And I think this is a really great idea for artists that would like to see some revenue. It has worked for Louis CK and Radiohead, so why wouldn’t it work for others as well?

People like to support an artist. They do not like paying $1.29 per song on itunes (or whatever it costs) and then be unable to put that song on a thumbdrive and hand it to their friend to have. I do not like that I cannot upload a song to tumblr if it is an mp4… meaning I cannot upload a song that was from a CD I purchased. Pirated music is typically in mp3 format, so if you want to upload that you could get away with it easily on tumblr.(i know, I’m not even supposed to be uploading copyrighted music to begin with, but you know people do it…)

When people purchase music they do it because they want to support the artist. And now technology has made it less expensive than ever to produce your own video or record your own music with professional quality sound. The years of Album artwork are over. The years of huge studios are coming to a close also. It is getting to the point that we do not have to pay $14.99 for a CD/DVD to support the artist (mabye like $2), production company ($3), studio ($2), cover designer ($1), etc, etc. We can just pay $5 (which is more than the artist would have received before) to get our product in digital form(which is cheaper to produce). That is how many people want their stuff these days anyway. If I want a CD I’ll burn one myself. I’ll buy the music online and then do what I want with it and give it to who I want. (Think about books; we have always handed books to our friends after we finished reading them, nobody thinks that is illegal!) The artist is happy because their art is getting out and they are making more money per purchase than they were before with hard copy media.

I know a lot of people that obviously still want hard copy media, and many artists that would still rather work with a production company than do their own stuff. This is the beginning of the future for videos and music. A lot of people are outraged at other people that pirate content illegally. But here’s the thing: you can safeguard it all you want, people are going to do that anyway. But if you still want to make a profit off of those of us that like your stuff and want to support you, lower the price, and just give us the content directly. Yes, some people are going to still listen to your stuff for free, but there are going to be a lot of us that want to help you out and chip in the $5 to support your art.

The Future of Education

Yesterday, after waking up and selling some Brighton handbags in the morning, I took a trip down to the city for a Meetup event discussing The Future of Education. The panel of speakers included San Kim, co-founder of ShowMe, Jen Medbery, founder of Kickboard, Brian Tobal, co-founder of Veri, and Danya Cheskis-Gold, Community Manager of Skillshare. I’ve been meaning to attend a Meetup for a while, and this just seemed like something I didn’t want to miss. These are the types of companies I hope to one day become involved with. I’ve played around with ShowMe (great idea) and Veri, and I’ve taken a few Skillshare courses. (I love Skillshare!) The only company I wasn’t familiar with was Kickboard, which is a tool used in schools that allows teachers to efficiently record data on student work and achievements.

I had never been to Dogpatch Labs before… that was a cool experience in itself to see several different start-ups all working in their respective areas around one large studio. Bryan Birsic moderated the event. It was nice to hear these four people discuss their respective company and the plans they see in the future for both their company and education in general. Each of these companies has a very different goal in the education sector. Veri and ShowMe can be used as tools for self-learning, or they can be used to make in-class lessons more engaging. Kickboard was really created to help school teachers become more efficient, while Skillshare is trying to reinvent our idea of post-secondary education, making its easy and affordable to take classes on anything you’re are interested in. Because of these differences it was occasionally difficult for some of the panelists to address each issue, but there were certainly a few common themes.

I think the most fascinating parts of the discussion were in regards to our accreditation and College/University system we now have in the United States.  When hiring for a position, many companies in this country still look to make sure a person has a Bachelors Degree before they even consider moving a candidate along in the hiring process. You would assume college graduates typically show heightened responsibility and self-motivation, but a college education may not provide the exact skills needed for many jobs out there. We already see instances when a company hires someone without a college diploma that has experience in the field instead of hiring a college graduate. In a start-up community, where engineers are worth their weight in gold, if the company was given the choice between a college drop-out that codes like a god and a mediocre coder with a Graduate degree, it obviously would make more sense to hire the guy with god-like coding abilities.

Jen Medbery made a good point that although this is the case in certain industries, (start-up companies being a big one) a Bachelors Degree is still a common requirement when applying to many different job.  Also, unlike coding, where you are given opportunities to show off your skills at hackathons, GitHub or your own personal site, there are a lot of professions out there where it is almost impossible to prove that you can do the job before you actually start doing it.

This talk made me churn a few thoughts over in my head. I mentioned in a post several days ago that I do see great value in a college education, but in many instances it probably won’t fully prepare you for your eventual career. But what I find more annoying is this: after 3.5 years of working for good grades and an entire semester of student teaching, all I have to show for my efforts is a Diploma, several History papers, and 2 flashdrives filled with powerpoints, worksheets and lesson plans I created for my students. As thrilling as that might sound to you, I’m not sure that is the type of stuff I should bring on my next interview. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if at the end of your college career your university forced you to compile your best work into an online portfolio? If from the first day of school you weren’t just working towards graduation, you were actually creating a tangible item that demonstrated your growth and development over the course of college? If our Career Resource Centers stopped teaching us how to write the “perfect” resume, and helped us develop a comprehensive compilation of our skills.

I know there are a few colleges out there that already do this type of thing. But not all of them do, and college is expensive and comes with false hope that there is a job waiting on the other side. Considering the time and expense the average college graduate devotes to their education, I think it only makes sense the students walk away with more tangible items than a diploma.

That last bit was a tangent, but I’m happy I was able to attend the event and I really plan to go to more in the future. Just like in Skillshare classes, it is great to get together with a group of like minded individuals, I talked to some very cool people last night. I also really enjoyed being around people involved with innovative education companies. It refreshed my desire to eventually become a part of that industry.

The power of foursquare lists!

In the two months I interned at foursquare several changes came out to the platform. One of the most exciting was the introduction of lists to both the website and eventually the iPhone and Android app. In the past three days Radar has come out of iPhone and now that is the most new and exciting addition to the platform. Radar is really cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs tonight when I go to the city for my friend’s birthday.

But today I want to tell you about a really positive experience I had 3 weeks ago using foursquare lists. I was going out on a Friday night with my boyfriend and my two housemates from college. None of us are native NYers but we all were commuting daily for school/work/internships. That day it was my responsibility to pick where we should hang out that night. I know NOTHING about cool places in the city and had no idea what to do.  But then I remembered, hey, I am friends with a bunch of foursquare employees that live in NYC and have obviously left plenty of tips at good venues to check out! I decided I would snoop around my friends tips at venues and create my own list of good places to check out that night with my friends.

Creating a list is pretty simple, I used my computer to create the list but I was easily able to add venues using my iPhone as well. I looked around for positive tips my foursquare friends had left at various venues around the city. If the bar seemed like a good time and was in walking distance, I added it to the list. So this was awesome, I now had a list of places I could check out with my friends that night.

Now I had an idea of where I wanted to go in the city, my only problem; I have the worst sense of direction on earth. And even though these places have nicely labled addresses I knew I would still struggle to find them. This is where my very favorite thing about lists comes in!

It conveniently places all the venues on a map for you! You can also click on the different pinpoints to see which venue is which. With this map and list of venues even I, the queen of getting lost, was able to direct my friends to different fun places around the city.

I was so proud of myself, I have always been the person that just follows people around while in the city, but finally I was able to lead my friends to cool and new places. This was so useful to me that day and I definitely plan on using lists again in the future. I could use lists again when i go to a new city, or create a list of local restaurants I’ve been meaning to check out. The possibilities truly are endless. And now with the introduction of radar, you even get a push notification when you are near a venue you have added to a list.

Increased importance of twitter in my life.

awesome propganda poster on Esty. (Good for my Social Studies heart)

When I look at my twitter profile I can see that I joined twitter on May 3, 2009. That is a solid 2.25 years of twitter in my life. I have to be honest, when I first got a twitter I thought it was stupid. I thought tweets were identical to a facebook status except that they  included confusing items such as #’s and @’s and limited my characters to a frustrating 140 (that is something I still struggle with on twitter.) Twitter also seemed less than accessible to me because I would have to remember to check my page when I was sitting at my laptop.

Fast forward one year: around 2010 I continued to user twitter, pretty sparingly, but it did become useful to me at times. I remember I would sit in the library on a Sunday doing work for school. My housemates and I didn’t have cable, plus I would be trying to do my work, so I would wind up trending a topic such as #NYGiants to see how they were doing in their game. Tweets come out instantaneously, whereas news articles take at least a few minutes to get published.

Twitter also became useful to me when I began to follow organizations and politicians I was interested in. I like to follow Barack Obama so that I can see what he is up to on a day to day basis. His tweets also include photos, videos and interesting news articles. In the same respect, I follow republican candidates for the same reason, so that I can see what they are up to. I know they cater their twitter pages to their fans, so I know I am seeing those candidates from the best perspective. That is something I rarely see, considering I went to college in a hippy town and I currently spend every day in Manhattan. I am also able to find out information about my favorite organizations such as Invisible Children and 350.org.

The iPhone makes twitter much more useful and accessible to me. Tweets are so short you shouldn’t have to log on to a laptop to check them, they are something that you should have access to when you are in a waiting room or on a train. When i log on to my phone the three things I immediately check (typically in this order) are email, twitter and facebook. I have gone from using twitter once per month, to checking and tweeting 3-4 times a per day.

Two weeks ago at foursquare we all felt the floor shaking beneath us. After 30 seconds of stress someone suggested, “was that just an earthquake?” Someone else was able to instantly check twitter and confirm, yes, it had been an earthquake, and it looks like over hundreds of other people had also felt the shakes.

5 days later after Hurricane Irene, I was able to follow @NYTMetro to get by-the-minute updates about the Metro-North and Subway for Monday. By this time we had lost power and internet, so my twitter timeline was the only way I was able to know that the Metro-North was closed on Monday.

So this was my experience with twitter. It has gone from being a useless, overcomplicated, facebook status to being a useful, constantly up-to-date news service in my life. I have known for a long time that twitter is a very successful start-up tech company that millions of people love, but it is only recently that twitter has become a very valuable resource in my life.

___

*Sorry I haven’t written a post a while. Hurricane Irene did eventually manage to take out power and it didn’t return for 48 hours. Then I spent the week in Bronxville with my boyfriend. (Commuting to the city from Bronxville is so much easie/faster than Garrison. ) I also want to acknowledge the fact that this blog is by NO means a tech blog. My posts so far have been about technology, but I plan to branch out soon to other topics like food, books, teaching, and anything else that is happening in my life.

Useful iPhone apps (from someone who is relatively new to the iPhone)

This past June I purchased my first smartphone, the iPhone 4, and it is a pretty awesome device. I think people who have had a smartphone for a while forget how little you can do with a basic cellphone.

I love this phone for many reasons, but it is especially nice to have for the 70 minute train ride I take to and from NYC five days a week for my internship. The other day for example, I was able to pay my phone bill (paying your phone bill with your phone makes it almost fun), request a book from my library and read all the blogs i subscribe to on my google reader. The iphone allows you to actually do productive work while on the train and now I don’t have to worry about those things when I get home.

The iphone 4, like most Apple products, was really simple to learn how to use. I’m sure I still am not using the phone to its full potential but I have a lot of fun learning about new apps I can download to constantly make my phone more useful and fun for me to use.

Today I thought I would make a list of my Top 5 Most Useful iPhone Apps. This list is made up of apps I had to download from the app store (they did not come with the phone) and I find them useful. I will create another post later to talk about my favorite fun iphone apps.

1. Feeddler RSS
There are a lot of blog reader options out there that can automatically connect to your Google Reader subscriptions. In all honestly I randomly picked this one out of the app store based on the number of stars it had based on customer reviews. (Those stars really help!) I have had no complaints with this reader. It organizes things nicely, doesn’t crash and loads quickly. I use this every morning to catch up on new posts!

2. The Weather Channel
Sorry if I am stating the obvious here, but this is a great app. I know Apple Weather comes with the phone but this app organizes things nicely with tabs for Current, Hourly and 10-Day forecasts. It has also been surprisingly accurate.

3. Ride MNR
If you ever find yourself riding the Metro-North Rail Road this app is AWESOME. It has all the departure times for all stations in the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Rail lines. It sure beats those paper pamphlets from Grand Central that seem to get updated every week.

4. My Verizon/Chase Mobile
Obviously if you use another bank or cellphone company you would download those apps accordingly. This is just to highlight how awesome it is to have a mobile bank app and apps to pay your bills. Paying bills via phone is super easy. Just make sure you include a passcode on your phone and always log-out after using one of these applications.

5. Shazam
Shazam is something I have been waiting my whole life for. It allows you to record a quick 5-second clip of a song and magically manages to figure out the song name and artist. Until this app I was the person who would frantically look for a scrap piece of paper in my handbag or write notes in my phone trying to catch a few broken lyrics so I could google search them later. This app works pretty consistently and has even been able to pick up some slightly obscure music. I even tested it out on the “Bedroom Intruder” Song and it recognized it. If you download the free app you can only search for 5 songs per month, but for $3.99 you get unlimited searching for 1 year- a price I though was rather reasonable.

All of these apps are rather popular and easy to find through a quick search of the Apple App store. They have made my iPhone experience more useful and therefore more enjoyable, and I look forward to discovering even more useful apps in the future.